Monday, September 30, 2002

and they still didn’t get him

AP Wire | 09/30/2002 | Miami bank robber may have shot self, then hit by hit-and-run van

And someone helped him out from under the van, then a woman in a red Mitsubishi picked him up, and he got away ... guess they don't have any security guards or even moderately alert staff at this bank: Wachovia Bank in North Miami Beach.
posted by lee on 09/30/02 at 08:26 PM

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Saturday, September 28, 2002

A useful design tool is an online design school. They launched a new tool called The Color Calculator: "... provides the user with the ability to identify color schemes or harmonies for any design project, by controlling a series of menus and tools."

Thanks to Stanley for this link.
posted by lee on 09/28/02 at 04:35 PM

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“I had other priorities.” -Dick Cheney, on why he did not serve in Vietnam

Atlantic Unbound | Politics & Prose | 2002.09.25: Pearl Harbor in Reverse

When the U.S. faced a mortal threat not 6,000 but ninety miles away during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a threat for which the evidence was incontrovertible as it is not with Iraq, President Kennedy rejected a pre-emptive attack on the Soviet missiles. Striking first, his brother Robert said, was un-Americanit would be "a Pearl Harbor in reverse." If the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strikes had been in place, the Soviet commanders on the scene, faced as Saddam will be with a "use it or lose it" situation, would likely have launched their missiles. We now know they were nuclear-armed. The Bush Doctrine would almost certainly have led to nuclear war between the U.S. and the USSR. It stands condemned by the sternest test in our history. As Arthur Schlesinger Jr., the presidential historian and former adviser to President Kennedy, wrote recently, basing a declaration of war on fear instead of on overt acts of belligerency is not only illegal under international law but also immoral. It cannot be right to kill a country's civilians because you are afraid of what their ruler might do to you. Pearl Harbor lives in infamy.
posted by lee on 09/28/02 at 04:26 PM

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Friday, September 27, 2002

a turtle?

Dewie_laptop.gifConsumer Information Security - Federal Trade Commission

I wonder how much we paid for this "mascot" and website. Too much, I'm sure. Dewie? This is the best the FTC could come up with? Why a turtle? Why does there even need to be a mascot?

The Federal Trade Commissioner's name is Orson Swindle. This is true. I didn't make it up.

Oh, and you can forward your spam directly to the gov at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). It says so right on the website. Of course, what happens once this is done is open to question.
posted by lee on 09/27/02 at 04:01 AM

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Wednesday, September 25, 2002

Oh, it’s Microsoft killing all those rippers ...

The Village Voice: Nation: Mr. Roboto: License to Ill
by Brendan I. Koerner. MS's EULA raises its intrusive head yet again.

However, by downloading the security upgrade, you agreed to abide by an End User License Agreement (EULA) that includes some rather Orwellian language embedded deep within. "You agree that in order to protect the integrity of content and software protected by digital rights management, Microsoft may provide security related updates . . . that will be automatically downloaded onto your computer," the contract warned. "These security related updates may disable your ability to copy and/or play Secure Content and use other software on your computer." Of course, no one but hardcore legal geeks ever bothers to read those mammoth, mind-numbing EULAsa fact Mr. Roboto suspects wasn't lost on Microsoft's top brass.
posted by lee on 09/25/02 at 04:23 AM

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Sunday, September 22, 2002

America as a terrorist - Bush’s manifesto of greed & death

This is important, so here is the entire article:
Bush to Outline Doctrine of Striking Foes First
By DAVID E. SANGER, © 2002, New York Times.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 -- On Friday, the Bush administration will publish its first comprehensive rationale for shifting American military strategy toward pre-emptive action against hostile states and terrorist groups developing weapons of mass destruction. The strategy document will also state, for the first time, that the United States will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged the way it was during the cold war.

In the 33-page document, Mr. Bush also seeks to answer the critics of growing American muscle-flexing by insisting that the United States will exploit its military and economic power to encourage "free and open societies," rather than seek "unilateral advantage." It calls this union of values and national interests "a distinctly American internationalism."

The document, titled "The National Security Strategy of the United States," is one that every president is required to submit to Congress. It is the first comprehensive explanation of the administration's foreign policy, from defense strategy to global warming. A copy of the final draft was obtained by The New York Times.

It sketches out a far more muscular and sometimes aggressive approach to national security than any since the Reagan era. It includes the discounting of most nonproliferation treaties in favor of a doctrine of "counterproliferation," a reference to everything from missile defense to forcibly dismantling weapons or their components. It declares that the strategies of containment and deterrence staples of American policy since the 1940's ח are all but dead. There is no way in this changed world, the document states, to deter those who "hate the United States and everything for which it stands."

"America is now threatened less by conquering states than we are by failing ones," the document states, sounding what amounts to a death knell for many of the key strategies of the cold war.

One of the most striking elements of the new strategy document is its insistence "that the president has no intention of allowing any foreign power to catch up with the huge lead the United States has opened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than a decade ago."

"Our forces will be strong enough," Mr. Bush's document states, "to dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing, or equaling, the power of the United States." With Russia so financially hobbled that it can no longer come close to matching American military spending, the doctrine seemed aimed at rising powers like China, which is expanding its conventional and nuclear forces.

Administration officials who worked on the strategy for months say it amounts to both a maturation and an explanation of Mr. Bush's vision for the exercise of America power after 20 months in office, integrating the military, economic and moral levers he holds.

Much of the document focuses on how public diplomacy, the use of foreign aid, and changes in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank can be used to win what it describes as a battle of competing values and ideas including "a battle for the future of the Muslim world."

The president put the final touches on the new strategy last weekend at Camp David after working on it for months with his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and with other members of the national security team. In its military hawkishness, its expressions of concern that Russian reforms could be undermined by the country's elite, and its focus on bolstering foreign aid ח especially for literacy training and AIDS it particularly bears the stamp of Ms. Rice's thinking.

A senior White House official said Mr. Bush had edited the document heavily "because he thought there were sections where we sounded overbearing or arrogant." But at the same time, the official said, it is important to foreclose the option that other nations could aspire to challenge the United States militarily, because "once you cut off the challenge of military competition, you open up the possibility of cooperation in a number of other areas."

Still, the administration's critics at home and abroad will almost certainly find ammunition in the document for their argument that Mr. Bush is only interested in a multilateral approach as long as it does not frustrate his will. At several points, the document states clearly that when important American interests are at stake there will be no compromise.

The document argues that while the United States will seek allies in the battle against terrorism, "we will not hesitate to act alone, if necessary, to exercise our right of self-defense by acting pre-emptively." That includes "convincing or compelling states to accept their sovereign responsibilities" not to aid terrorists, the essence of the doctrine Mr. Bush declared on the night of Sept. 11, 2001.

The White House delayed releasing the document this week so that its lengthy discussion of conditions under which the United States might take unilateral, pre-emptive action would not dominate delicate negotiations in the United Nations or the testimony of administration officials who appeared at Congressional hearings to discuss Iraq.

The new strategy departs significantly from the last one published by President Clinton, at the end of 1999.

Mr. Clinton's strategy dealt at length with tactics to prevent the kind of financial meltdowns that threatened economies in Asia and Russia. The Bush strategy urges other nations to adopt Mr. Bush's own economic philosophy, starting with low marginal tax rates. While Mr. Clinton's strategy relied heavily on enforcing or amending a series of international treaties, from the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to Kyoto protocols on the environment, Mr. Bush's strategy dismisses most of those efforts.

In fact, the new document ח which Mr. Bush told his staff had to be written in plain English because "the boys in Lubbock ought to be able to read it" celebrates his decision last year to abandon the ABM treaty because it impeded American efforts to build a missile defense system. It recites the dangers of nonproliferation agreements that have failed to prevent Iran, North Korea, Iraq and other countries from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, and says that the United States will never subject its citizens to the newly created International Criminal Court, "whose jurisdiction does not extend to Americans."

The document makes no reference to the Kyoto accord, but sets an "overall objective" of cutting American greenhouse gas emissions "per unit of economic activity by 18 percent over the next 10 years." The administration says that is a reasonable goal given its view of the current state of environmental science. Its critics, however, point out that the objective is voluntary, and allows enormous room for American emissions to increase as the American economy expands.

The doctrine also describes at great length the administration's commitment to bolstering American foreign aid by 50 percent in the next few years in "countries whose governments rule justly, invest in their people and encourage economic freedom." It insists that the programs must have "measurable results" to assure that the money is actually going to the poor, especially for schools, health care and clean water.

So, there you have it. It's all about money - not need, not defense, not ethics or honor or anything good. Just money. Rich white men ensuring they remain rich no matter what.

Now I know what happened was not a botched election, but a coup d'etat, just as sordid as any that ever transpired in any Third-world country. Now I'm convinced that 9/11 was a part of the plan; that the current administration murdered 2,000 Americans and 2,000-plus Afghanis to transform our country into a nation of gangsters. Part of a long-term plan worthy of any Tom Clancy novel. Only it's for real.

I wonder how much Bush and his evil administration will be able to damage the United States before we can finally vote him out of office? I don't hold much hope for our country, especially when our representatives, such as Senator Lieberman (D-CT), fall into line to kiss Bush's ass. I wonder what Lieberman was promised if he fell into place?

I just don't know what's going to happen. And I'm trying to figure out what I can do to help restore democracy to our country. I'm ashamed of the United States right now - look where our self-indulgence and navel-gazing has brought us.

Of Interest:
Bush's Foreign Policy Blueprint. A Grand Global Plan by Jim Lobe, in
The Next World Order by Nicholas Lemann, in the New Yorker.
Don't mention the O-word, from The Economist.
Fortunes of war await Bush's circle after attacks on Iraq By Andrew Gumbel, The Independent.
Questions that Won't Be Asked About Iraq, Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), U.S. House of Representatives, September 10, 2002.

As Stanley commented after he read the NYT article above: "If we think we've been hit by terrorists before, just wait until we start attacking other countries for no reason. Israel thinks it has problems with bombings? I'm sure that's nothing compared to what will happen to us."
posted by lee on 09/22/02 at 09:28 PM

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nigerian scam nets a victim

From the Detroit Free Press: Law firm out $2.1 million in African fraud

He introduced himself as Dr. Mbuso Nelson. He said he was an official with the Ministry of Mining in Pretoria, South Africa.

And he offered to pay a $4.5-million fee to a 59-year-old Rochester Hills woman if she would help him transfer $18 million from South Africa to a bank account in the United States.

The FBI said Poet, a bookkeeper for a small Berkley (MI) law firm, embezzled $2.1 million from the firm's accounts between February and August, after scam organizers persuaded her to wire huge amounts of money to bank accounts in South Africa and Taiwan to expedite the transfer of money to the United States.

I can't believe how unbelievably stupid this woman is.

I can't believe the bank (Bank One) didn't notice a pattern - this scam has been around for a long enough time for it to ring a few alarm bells.

I do believe the bank let the woman send wire transfers she wasn't authorized to make because I've seen first hand how banks let embezzled checks go through: First Union (CT) let a bookkeeper wipe out a small business I worked for a few years ago by cashing checks with unauthorized signatures. They never bothered to check. Banks don't give a damn about small businesses. So I hope this law firm sues and wins big, big bucks because of the bank's negligence.

I also wonder why the missing money wasn't noticed by the firm's accountant - I would assume an actual accountant would check the bookkeeper's work at least once per quarter. That's a lot of of dinero to slip through the cracks without anyone noticing.

Now, send $5 to each of the 20 persons on my list, especially to me, then cross off the first name on the list, add your's to the bottom, and send it out to everybody you can think of even if you no longer have any contact with 'em ... in 27 days you could have like $50,000 or so ... or you could be out $107.40.
posted by lee on 09/22/02 at 04:08 AM

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Saturday, September 21, 2002

Quickie Review: One Hour Photo

Stanley and I finally got a chance to see One Hour Photo. It was excellent. I read a few of the reviews afterwards - most of the reviewers missed the point of the movie, complaining that the "other" characters were "cardboard" or not as fully developed onehour_8.jpgas Robin William's Seymour Parrish (Sy - the one hour photo guy). The movie wasn't about the other characters, the family that obesessed Sy (if had been about them, the director would have probably used more well-known actors than the relatively obscure ones who played the family). The movie was about Sy. The story was told visually more than any other movie I've seen in quite a while - with the cinematography and sets and costumes. You could probably understand the movie and what was going on without any dialogue - the dialogue enhanced the movie, but wasn't essential to it. Williams played this character exquisitely well. It was a really creepy movie, about lonliness and desperation and how sterile life can be when it's not shared with people who care about you. Listen carefully to Sy's observations as he tells the detective why he did what he did. Eriq La Salle was quietly and solidly good as the detective and Gary Cole was as good as the store manager as he was as the department manager in Office Space (essentially the same role - but Cole does it well.) Definitely worth paying full price to see it (with expensive popcorn to boot).

It also gave me some design ideas for a couple of new websites we're building.
posted by lee on 09/21/02 at 04:15 AM

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Friday, September 20, 2002

Important - if not you, then who?

No War on Iraq. Sign the petition, send it to your Congressional representative, send the petition on to as many people as you can.
posted by lee on 09/20/02 at 06:01 PM

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Thursday, September 19, 2002

but will the bush/cheney greed coalition somehow steamroller war anyway?

Independent News: UN to upset Bush's war plans with one-year deadline for Iraq
The United Nations is likely to throw into disarray America's war plans for Iraq by introducing a timetable for weapons inspections that could give Saddam Hussein a breathing space of almost 12 months.

The extended timetable, which would allow the inspectors first to deploy in Iraq and then to begin and complete their complicated mission, could exhaust the patience of Washington, which envisages attacking the country much earlier, probably in February. Yesterday the Bush administration asked Congress to endorse the military option before the UN makes its move.

President Bush "reserves the right to act in the interests of the United States and its friends and allies", his spokesman said ...
posted by lee on 09/19/02 at 04:21 AM

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